Hearing Tests for Adults

Hearing Tests for Adults

Hearing tests for adults help to diagnose hearing loss and determine the severity. While hearing loss is more common in the elderly, anyone can have some degree of hearing loss due to the natural aging process, illness, or lifestyle choices. Hearing tests help to measure an individual's ability to hear soft and loud sounds and can provide invaluable information to inform a patient and healthcare provider about their hearing health.

Preparation for a Hearing Test

Scans of the brain and auditory pathway (such as MRI or CTA) may be needed to further evaluate new or progressive hearing loss. Therefore, it is important to consult your healthcare provider before undergoing a hearing test. Depending upon the type of hearing test, you may be advised to remove jewelry, hearing devices, glasses, or other items that may interfere with the test. Your healthcare provider will inform you on which items to remove before the test.


A hearing test may be conducted in a quiet room and commonly involves the use of headphones. Your healthcare provider might present a variety of tones through the headphones, testing the softest sound you can detect as well as loudest sound you can withstand without damage. The test may also measure how well you can recognize and distinguish different tones. The level of hearing loss, if any, will be determined and recorded for comparison to future tests.

Types of Hearing Tests

  • Pure-tone Audiometry: This test measures an individual’s ability to hear different frequencies at different volumes.
  • Impedance Audiometry: This test measures the pressure of sound in the ear canal.
  • Speech Discrimination Tests: This test evaluates how well an individual can understand and recognize different words and sentences.
  • Otoacoustic Emissions: This test helps to identify problems stemming from the outer, middle, or inner ear.
  • Cognitive Testing: This tests cognitive ability to understand language.

Risks of Hearing Tests

Hearing tests are generally safe and free from complications. However, due to variation in individual hearing levels, some sounds used in the test could be too loud and may lead to temporary hearing loss and associated ringing.

Why Have a Hearing Test?

At any age, it is important to have regular hearing tests to detect any changes in hearing acuity or uncover any problems in the auditory system. It is especially important to detect hearing loss early on before it becomes more severe. Without regular hearing tests, a person may not be aware of his or her hearing problem, which can lead to serious communication and social impairments.

When to Have a Hearing Test

For adults, hearing tests should be conducted at least once a year. If hearing loss is deemed to be progressive, hearing tests should be conducted more frequently or as recommended by healthcare provider. Age-related hearing loss is common, so it is recommended that younger adults (20s and 30s) should have hearing tests to detect any early signs of hearing loss.